17 thoughts on “Hard moves and Soft moves.”

  1. From the GMing section on the website which I think sums it up pretty well:

    “Generally when the players are just looking at you to find out what happens you make a soft move, otherwise you make a hard move.

    A soft move is one without immediate, irrevocable consequences. That usually means it’s something not all that bad, like revealing that there’s more treasure if they can just find a way past the golem (offer an opportunity with cost). It can also mean that it’s something bad, but they have time to avoid it, like having the goblin archers loose their arrows (show signs of an approaching threat) with a chance for them to dodge out of danger.

    A soft move ignored becomes a golden opportunity for a hard move. If the players do nothing about the hail of arrows flying towards them it’s a golden opportunity to use the deal damage move.

    Hard moves, on the other hand, have immediate consequences. Dealing damage is almost always a hard move, since it means a loss of HP that won’t be recovered without some action from the players.

    When you have a chance to make a hard move you can opt for a soft one instead if it better fits the situation. Sometimes things just work out for the best.”

    So generally anything can be a Hard Move if it has effects that will last depending on the situation.

  2. A soft move is the setup and a hard move is the follow through. The goblin’s spear thrusts at you, what do you do? is a soft move. The goblin stabs you with its spear for 4 damage is a hard move

  3. Paul Sheppard Or in the instance of setting up a complication, “A Goblin spear narrowly misses your body but pins you to the wall as it pierces your robes.  What do you do?”  Staying put is bad and they’ve got a Goblin throwing spears.  Ignoring that or failing the roll to get loose might elevate to a Hard Move of damage and being pinned through a body part!

  4. I think part of the reason why there isn’t a list of hard vs soft moves, is that many or even most of them can be used as either a hard or soft move depending on what you do with it.  Take a look at the comments under this post from last month for some great examples: 


    In particular, look at the comments from Russel Williams and Jeremy Strandberg in particular for examples of how some of the moves that might typically be used as soft moves can be used as hard moves too.

  5. Another thing to remember is that, while the GM move should follow the fiction, that doesn’t mean that the GM move must always be in reaction to what the players was doing when they failed. This is especially true if the player fails moves that might not have obvious immediate consequence on failure (e.g. discern realities, spout lore, some types of magic item activation). That’s a good time for a soft move (I usually go for announcing future badness).

  6. I guess when I’ll introduce GW to my players (which I conviced btw, yay! lol), if I tell them : “The goblin’s spear thrusts at you, what do you do? “

    I already know they’ll be tempted to answer : I dodge!

    What’s that? Defy Danger +DEX?

    What’s “I block?” Defy Danger +CON?

  7. Right.  But prompt them for more details, it would make that call a lot easier.  

    If it’s “I dodge by rolling behind the nearest rock” then yeah, Defy Danger +DEX.  

    If it’s “I block by raising my shield and taking the blow.” then sure, Defy Danger+STR if they intend to get hit to advance on the enemy or +CON if they’re just trying to not get hurt.

    If another player wants to jump in front of the character in danger that’s the Defend Move.


  8. Sean Dunstan I prefer “a soft move is something you’ve got to deal with soon (and maybe that means right now), but a hard move is something that you failed to deal with.”

    I.e. in the hard move, the bad thing already happened.  And, yeah, it sure might get worse if you don’t don’t do anything else, but you’ve already fallen/gotten stabbed/broke your sword/got captured/fell unconscious/etc.

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